Racing at Talladega Superspeedway is always a treacherous proposition, and so it was again during the latest NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

There was smoke, flames, flips and a whole lot of carnage on Monday (AEST) - and pretty much everyone was caught in the middle of it.

Forty cars lined up for the race and 35 of them were wrecked in some way by a crash - sometimes more than once. The race became less a matter of who the quickest driver was and more a case of who had the best survival skills.

Put simply, the scene resembled a wrecking yard more than a racetrack.


Sprint Cup rookie Chris Buescher was able to walk away after a horrifying wreck on lap 96. That occurred when Jamie McMurray tapped Austin Dillon on the backstretch - wadding up the field behind them and setting off a chain reaction that included Buescher, whose car went airborne and barrel-rolled three times before coming to a rest.

"It was so quick I never had any time to react," Buescher said. "We got clipped in the right rear and as soon as it turned it went up on its lid. I thought we were clear of the wreck."

The biggest incident involved Danica Patrick and Matt Kenseth. Michael McDowell bumped the back of Patrick's car, sending her hard into Kenseth, who then went flying in the air before crashing against a wall.

Patrick's car burst into flames after she slammed into the backstretch inside wall, leading her to call it the worst crash of her career.

"It hit really hard. Everything - the steering wheel - is way out of place. I hit my foot. Hit my arm. There was fire inside the car. It kind of knocked the breath out of me a little bit," said Patrick.

"I would say that's probably the most scared, trying to hop out of a car with the fire on the inside.

"I haven't had fire on the inside before. It got to the glove a little bit. Honestly, I was thinking about my hair. I have a lot of hair, and I don't want to lose it.

"That was the worst one (wreck) so far. I have decent bruises on my arm and foot. I hit a wall at 200 (mph). And my chest hurts when I breathe."


Kevin Harvick's day only got worse as the race ended, crossing the finish line on his roof.

Dale Earnhardt Jr had troubles from the get-go. He was exiting the second turn when the rear end of his Hendrick Motorsport came around and made contact with Kasey Kahne and the Toyota of Matt DiBenedetto.

The contact caused heavy damage to "Amelia," the nickname Earnhardt gave to his favourite restrictor-plate race car.

Oh, and his steering wheel casually came off during the race, as if he hadn't had enough problems already.

Driver Austin Dillon said while fans might be cheering for crashes, the people behind the wheel certainly weren't. "We don't like to be a part of crashes. It's not what our job is, to crash," Dillon said.

"Our job is to compete and have fun out there and put on a show. Putting on a show, crashes happen ... I think people, if they're cheering for crashes, man, it's not a good thing.

"I know NASCAR will put their efforts towards fixing it. I know they will. They've made the car safer. That's the reason why we're walking away from these crashes."


Writing for Yahoo Sports, Jay Busbee could barely believe what he saw. "What the hell was that?" Busbee wrote.

"Seriously. What do you call a race when 35 of the 40 cars are involved in some form of wreck, when several drivers stagger from their cars gasping for breath, when cars are hurtling toward walls fast enough for you to start thinking dark thoughts?

"All in all, millions of dollars' worth of cars ended up totalled.

"The trouble with risk is that sometimes the threat you're risking becomes a reality. Speed creates wrecks, cars go airborne, and we all hold our breath, knowing that this is what can happen but hoping everyone walks away."

One of the few people to leave the track smiling was Brad Keselowski, who won the GEICO 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Kurt Busch took the lead on the final restart with three laps to go, getting a push from behind by the No. 6 Roush Fenway Racing Ford of Trevor Bayne.

But soon enough it was a battle for the lead between Keselowski on the outside and Busch in the inside. Keselowski eventually got a push from Kyle Busch and surged back into the lead he had held prior to the final caution coming out for the wild wreck involving Patrick, Kenseth and others.